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OOS is the new RSI (Occupational Overuse Syndrome)

Welcome back from the Christmas break and best wishes to all for 2011.

In my last post we discussed the issue of manual handling injuries in the workplace. In this first post for 2011 I will discuss the issue of Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS) or what used to be termed “RSI” or Repetitive Strain Injury.

OOS can be described as a condition characterised by pain or discomfort in muscles, tendons and other soft tissue in the back, neck, shoulder, elbows, wrists, hands or fingers. Normally OOS is the result of repetitive use of any of these parts of the body over a period of time.

The result of OOS can mean either a short period of pain with time lost from work, physiotherapy or the use of anti-inflammatory medication to decrease the symptoms. Unfortunately in some cases the syndrome can lead to permanent injury and eventually surgical intervention.

Due to the type of work performed at State Records our staff are exposed to the risk of OOS. Examples are staff moving boxes off and onto shelves, retrieval of files from boxes, lifting boxes in and out of vehicles, using barcode scanners, data entry and day to day use of computers.

The risk of OSS at State Records is reduced by the following processes:

  • Comprehensive OHS inductions for all new staff and volunteers, highlighting the issue of OOS
  • Staff are encouraged to take regular short breaks or vary tasks to reduce the risk of damaging the body through repetitive movements
  • Pause-break software installed on computers to remind staff to take breaks
  • Staff are encouraged to report any tasks that may lead to OOS through State Records Accident/Incident/Hazard reporting system
  • Workstation assessments are conducted for all new staff to ensure that correct ergonomic practices are followed and ergonomic equipment is available to all staff
  • If a task is highlighted as being a possible OOS hazard, a risk assessment is conducted followed by the formation of a Safe Working Method Statement (SWMS)

The resulting injuries from OOS can be debilitating but if staff are aware of the correct work processes the chance of being adversely affected can be reduced to the lowest level of possible risk.

My next post will discuss slips, trips and falls.

Category: General